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J Chem Ecol. 2005 Jul;31(7):1645-56.

Effects of sublethal doses of malathion on responses to sex pheromones by male Asian corn borer moths, Ostrinia furnacalis (Guenée).

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Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.


We evaluated the sublethal effects of malathion treatment on the behavioral responses of male Asian corn borers, Ostrinia furnacalis (Guenée), to their sex pheromones. Doses of malathion causing 1-50% mortality were topically applied to Asian corn borer male moths. The survivors were tested for behavioral and electroantennogram (EAG) responses to their sex pheromones. Sublethal doses of malathion affected males' ability to locate a pheromone source. In wind tunnel tests, male moths treated with sublethal doses of malathion took 2.5 to 12 times as long to take flight as control moths. Malathion-treated male moths were 60-96% less likely to locate a sex pheromone source than control moths. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that the proportions of males performing each key stage were significantly correlated with the doses of malathion, but not with the time since treatment. Sensitivity and specificity of perception to pheromones in male moths were also disrupted by sublethal doses of malathion. The EAG responses of males treated with malathion decreased 0.13 mV on average compared with control moths. In addition, the ratios of pheromone components that elicited the largest responses shifted from approximately 5:5 to 1:9 (E/Z) and 9:1. We conclude that treatment with sublethal doses of malathion significantly reduced the likelihood that male Asian corn borers could successfully locate a normal female releasing sex pheromones.

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